Wednesday 15 July 2015

Every day is Groundhog Day

I no longer wake groggily from my drunken slumbers wondering what day of the week it is. Because now every day is Groundhog Day.

The evidence that we are trapped in a time loop is evident in the headlines: Greece battling with its never-ending financial crisis, doctors wanting to tax sugar, and idiots proving incapable of reading the warnings at the end of the Holy Island causeway.

The Greek people thought they had been offered a way out through a referendum, giving them the opportunity to say “no” to EU-imposed austerity.

Ignoring the evidence of all previous history that votes against the EU have no relevance, and cannot be allowed to stand.

The plain fact, obvious to all intelligent observers from the outset, is that you cannot have a successful single currency without a fiscal union, which in turn demands a full political union.

This sort of “beneficial crisis” was always part of the plan to bring that glorious day closer, though if it is happening at all it seems to be doing so in slow motion.

Partly, no doubt, because all pro-EU national governments feel themselves under threat, whether from the growth of left-wing anti-austerity parties in the poorer south or the parallel rise of right-wing Farageiste nationalist ones in the richer north.


The latter show little appetite for wealthier countries subsidising the poorer ones, as political union would inevitably entail. And who can blame them, considering the ungracious response of poorer countries like Scotland to the fiscal transfers they receive in the political union called the UK?

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sir John Major and Gordon Brown for keeping us out of the continuing euro mess, at any rate up to now. Though if we vote to distance ourselves even further in our promised in-out EU referendum, remember that the political elite reserves the right to ignore results it does not like.

Meanwhile the British Medical Association proposes a fiscal transfer of another kind, by taxing the sugary drinks beloved of poor people to subsidise the fresh fruit and vegetables favoured by the middle classes.

I can still remember the first time my mother asked me to nip to the greengrocer and buy her a cabbage, more than 50 years ago. Used as I was to forking out sixpence (2½p) for a bar of chocolate, I queried whether the half crown (12½p) she had handed me would be enough for something so huge. I think it cost tuppence (less than 1p).

I was staggered by what great value fresh vegetables were then, and have been ever since. Their place in the forefront of the supermarket price war pretty much guarantees that this will continue.

We could all feed our families cheaply and more healthily if we bought cheap cuts of meat, and fresh fruit and vegetables when in season (or frozen ones when not), and cooked proper meals from scratch.

But we live in a topsy-turvy world where the poorest in our society are also likely to be the fattest, because they are the most reliant on takeaways and convenience food.

Might better education rather than new complexes of taxes and subsidies not be the answer to this conundrum? And if that is not feasible, why not simply invoke the terrorist threat to declare a state of emergency and reintroduce the ration book, which did so much to improve the health of the nation during World War 2?

There is zero evidence from around the world that attempts to tax particular foods will have any effect at all on their consumption.

But why bother with evidence when you are on a mission, whether that be to create a United States of Europe or to build a healthier, slimmer, fitter society in which doctors would be out of a job. (Has the BMA really thought this through, I wonder?)

It’s surely much more fun to take the approach of those bold individuals approaching the Holy Island causeway to find it underwater.

All previous attempts to cross it under these conditions may have resulted in cars being written off and their occupants ignominiously rescued from refuges. But this particular Groundhog Day will be different, won’t it?

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

1 comment:

David Banks said...

Fine words, Mr Hann, but too much half-tone distracts from your message.
And is the website REALLY closed?